Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii; I’m Susanne Friend of New Age Of Sail and The Splash Project, and I’d like to tell you a funny story about the Hawaiian word “mahalo”:
Often misinterpreted to mean “thank you” by the numerous well-meaning tourists to our island Paradise, the Hawaiian word mahalo has been printed on all the public garbage cans in Waikiki by the slightly misguided but also well-meaning Department Of Business, Economic Development And Tourism (DBEDT).
The idea was to thank tourists for responsibly taking care of their trash. Now, the tourists also misinterpret the word to mean “garbage” because it’s what’s on the Hawaiian garbage cans. I’ve even heard them arguing about what it means: “garbage” or “thank you”. But it doesn’t mean either one.
Mahalo means “well done”; and is a compliment given when a person “does the right thing”, or does something difficult or demanding.